Fable Page 38

Mina thought for a minute and then began to tell him about her life. How they always moved from state to state until the curse found them. She told him of how her friends would sometimes get wrapped up in the tales as well. When he became increasingly interested, she decided to tell him a little about each of her friends.

“Who’s Nan?” he asked when she described the Snow White quest.

“Well, Nan has been my best friend ever since I moved to Kennedy High School. She kind of took me under her wing and refused to let me become the obvious wallflower. She adored my brother Charlie, is a huge reality TV fan, and loves…loves her cell phone.”

Nix’s face took on another odd expression, and she realized that he didn’t know half of what she was talking about. He probably didn’t know what a high school was, or a TV, or a cell phone. It was so easy to just assume that since Jared and Ever knew, that all of the Fae on this world also knew.

“Brody is—” She sighed and felt herself get a little dreamy. “Brody is the most handsome, most popular guy I know, and he also happens to be really sweet. He plays on the water polo team at school, and I think you would like it. It’s a game with a ball and net played in a swimming pool.”

Nix’s eyes lit up at the mention of water polo. He made Mina spend the next half hour describing everything about this wonderful game played in the water. Mina was sure that she only knew enough about the sport to fill two minutes, but she found out that she knew more than she thought she did.

“I sure would love to play this water polo here on the Fae plane. Might be a little difficult finding a water creature with the right appendages and limbs to play.” Nix then became lost in thought as he obsessed over trying to re-create the game here. “I could make a net out of the forever weed.”

“What’s forever weed?”

“A weed that lies in the deepest parts of a river. If you wander through it, it wraps around you forever…until you die.”

“And you want to make a net out of it? What if someone crashes into it? And it wraps around them and won’t let them go?” she blurted, horrified at the thought.

He looked at her as if she was dumb. “Well, any real water creature knows that you just don’t crash into it.”

She let him ramble on until the conversation became quiet again.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t let you finish,” he piped up.

“Finish what?”

“Your story about your friends. Do you have any more? I would like to know more about your life. Raina was my only friend, and now that she’s gone, I-I think you are my only friend now.”

Mina felt her throat contract with emotion, and she had to force back the tears that threatened to spill forth. What if everyone in her life turned or changed into some kind of a monster and she lost them forever, and she was left alone. Would she be willing to live a life of solitude and die young? Or would she choose the path of darkness? A shiver ran up her spine, and she couldn’t help but feel a tingling of apprehension. She had almost given in to the power, and used it once to cause a terrible accident that killed her friend. Until the Fates, or Maeve, the Queen of the Fae, intervened and made a bargain with Mina. Save her son, save her friend. Just one more reminder to never trust the Fae completely.

The horses slowed and came to a halt overlooking a cliff. They were still traveling parallel to the river, which now barreled over the same cliff into what looked like a 300-foot waterfall. It was the first time Mina could actually see the Fae world from a high viewpoint, and what she saw took her breath away. The world was similar to her own human world but completely different. There were two separate suns and three moons, two of which were already making their appearance in the sky. The mix of the suns setting and moons rising created a kaleidoscope of colors painted across the canvas of the sky. If she turned her head, she could see a shooting star trail across the dark blue heavens and disappear into the pink sun. It didn’t make sense, it couldn’t possibly make sense, but it felt so right.

“It’s beautiful,” Mina whispered.

“It can be at times,” Nix said wearily. “At others times it’s too perfect.” He waited until the final sun had almost set, and then he pointed in the distance, to what looked like a white snow-capped mountain surrounded by a beautiful crystal lake. “There. That’s where we’re going.”

“I don’t see anything.” Mina strained and tried to stand taller on the horse to look. She saw a small carriage in the distance, pulled by what looked like a chimera, approach the south side of the lake. The carriage and beast crossed onto a large stone bridge that blended perfectly into the shimmering hues of the lake, unless you were looking for it. She looked ahead to see what was on the other side, but the bridge looked unfinished—like someone had forgotten to complete the north end. The carriage never slowed and didn’t seem deterred by the lack of a road. One minute it was there, and the next second the carriage had disappeared into thin air.

“Where did it go?” Mina gasped.

“Wait for it. Wait for it,” Nix chanted, and pointed to the sinking sun and the middle of the lake.

Mina strained her eyes, staring at the spot that Nix had referred to, and then as the sun sank below the horizon, it appeared: the rest of the completed stone bridge that led to a double arched white and gold gate and up to the front steps of a glorious palace. In the moonlight, the walls sparkled and shone, reflecting back the last of the suns’ rays.

Her breath caught, and a single tear slid down her cheek at the magnificence of the Fates’ home. The north side of the palace nestled into the mountain, protecting it from an invasion. Towers pierced the sky, seeming to disappear among the soft white clouds. Torches inside the castle were lit, and window by window the castle was alight in a soft ethereal glow.

Nix explained that the palace could only be seen at sunset and sunrise, and was hidden the rest of the day. Something flew over the castle, and Mina thought she saw a griffin patrolling the sky. A second one came to land on an outcropping on the mountain and glared watchfully over the lake. Of course the Royal Fates would be protected. She scanned the main entrance into the palace and saw what the veil had hidden. On the other side of the bridge were guards. Not small human guards—the giant variety.

A second later the veil was back up, and the palace disappeared behind its protective glamour once more.

She swallowed nervously. “Now what? How do we get inside with all of the guards?”

“Oh, the giants and the griffins are the least of our worries. We aren’t sneaking into the palace by land or air.”

“Of course we’re not,” she replied sarcastically.

“The kelpies once told me of another way in.” His smile widened.

“Uh, Nix?” Mina called out worriedly, but it was too late.

Nix smiled. He nudged his horse forward, and it took off running toward the waterfall, then dove off the cliff. Her horse, without prompting, followed the white one and leapt into the air.

Chapter 23

“Oh, no, no, NO NOOOO!” she screamed as the horse underneath her flew through the air to disappear once again. She felt herself falling, and every inch of her body flailed, trying to stop the terrifying descent. She couldn’t catch her breath; she could no longer scream. The jagged rocks at the bottom of the waterfall came rushing toward her, and just when she thought she would be crushed to death, a ball of water appeared around her like a protective bubble and she hit the water hard, but not hard enough to cause any damage.

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